LSU defeats Tennessee to win its first game of this year’s College World Series.
LSU improves its record to 49-15 and will face Wake Forest at 6 p.m. CT on Monday. Tennessee drops to 43-21 and will enter the elimination bracket where it will face Stanford at 1 p.m. on Monday.
“Our team was locked in from the first pitch,” said LSU head coach Jay Johnson. “We talked a lot about just focusing on execution, and they they did that really, really well.”
Although this is the first time that a majority of LSU’s players have played in Omaha, they didn’t let the big stage get to them.
“We play 56 games in the regular season and we play 56 playoff games in our mind,” LSU second baseman Gavin Dugas said. “Every game is a playoff game, no matter what we do and how we’re preparing, we’re preparing to play a baseball game. That’s something that has made us very successful in those moments.
LSU starting pitcher Paul Skenes (13-2) earned the win. In 7.2 innings, Skenes allowed two runs on five hits, one walk and 12 strikeouts. After tonight’s game, Skenes now has 200 strikeouts, making him the first pitcher to throw at least 200 strikeouts since former UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer did it in 2011. Skenes needs three more strikeouts to break former LSU pitcher Ben McDonald’s single-season strikeout record of 202 that was set in 1989.
LSU reliever Riley Cooper earned his first save of the season as he pitched 1.2 innings with one hit and two strikeouts.
Tennessee starting pitcher Andrew Lindsey (3-4) was charged with the loss. His final line through 3.2 innings pitched was two runs on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
In the second inning, second baseman Gavin Dugas blasted a solo home run to left field to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. Dugas’ home run was his 16th of the season.
In the third inning, first baseman Tre Morgan would gain an RBI after he brought home left fielder Josh Pearson on an RBI groundout to extend LSU’s lead to two runs.
In the fifth inning, LSU would score two runs to extend its lead to 4-0. After catcher Hayden Travinski would force a walk, right fielder Brayden Jobert would line an RBI triple to right center field. Shortstop Jordan Thompson would record an RBI single when Tennessee shortstop Maui Ahuna failed to catch Thompson’s line drive.
After centerfielder Dylan Crews doubled and Tommy White singled to move Crews to third base, Morgan would gain his second RBI after he sent a sacrifice fly into center field to send home Crews to extend LSU’s lead to five runs.
However, Tennessee would try to stage a mini-comeback when it scored three runs in the eighth inning. After Ahuna’s RBI single, Tennessee outfielder Griffin Merritt would launch a two-run home run over the right-center wall to cut into LSU’s lead. Merritt’s home run was his 19th of the season.
However, Jobert would come in the clutch once again when he torpedoed a solo dinger over the right field wall for his 12th home run of the season.